This summer, I am interning at BridgeYear, a nonprofit startup. BridgeYear was founded two years ago to change the way high school graduates approach college and careers. The organization focuses on broadening and showcasing options beyond a traditional four-year college to lower-income high school graduates in Houston.
BridgeYear focuses on three main issues:
First, it addresses the expectation that students should know which career to go into, without having any prior exposure.
Secondly, BridgeYear aims to alleviate the issue of “summer melt,” in which students who plan on attending community college after high school, end up dropping school due to lack of support and direction.
Lastly, it highlights the employment gap in high-growth jobs, which could provide higher wages and a better option for some students.
BridgeYear addresses each of these issues through Career Test Drives (CTDs), advising, and pathway mapping. CTDs are mobile fairs that are set up in high schools, in which each student can “try on” a different career and experience what the work is like. This provides students a tangible essence of whether a career is right for them, and exposes them to options they may not have considered before. Interested students are then paired with an advisor, who helps them evaluate their next steps in terms of community college or employment, and guides them through the process.
Each intern is responsible for advising students, running CTDs, and working on their own summer projects. My tasks mainly focus on communications and marketing. I am writing the impact report, sending the board of directors biweekly updates, creating the newsletter, redesigning the website, and developing a social media strategy. This will help spread awareness about the mission, strengthen and refine the brand, and maintain a dialogue with the board, donors, students, parents, and all stakeholders involved. This leads to growing presence and credibility for the organization, which should lead to increased donations and involvement.
I am very excited about my work, and can see numerous opportunities for growth and development. Since this is a startup, I am able to take initiative on multiple projects, during meetings, and make decisions to develop my leadership abilities. There is also opportunity to collaborate on different projects, expanding one’s expertise and skills. I hope to bolster my project management and critical thinking through my work, as I need to handle multiple projects at once. In addition, planning, implementing, and testing a strategy for the first time will build my analytical and evaluative skills.
Advising students has been highly insightful, as I am able to learn about the purpose and mission of the organization, while directly influencing its final customers. Presenting at CTD fairs is also extremely rewarding, as you are able to see the excitement and curiosity on students’ faces when they succeed at a career task for the first time. This has improved my interpersonal and presentation skills greatly, and offers a great complement to the work I do for the organization internally.
– Aninditaa Agarwal